Donald Trump landed in Michigan on Wednesday night to take a shot at working-class voters, criticize President Joe Biden and divert attention from his arrival at the GOP.
The former president will speak to supporters and union workers a day after President Biden visits the battleground state.
Trump’s prime-time speech comes against the backdrop of the GOP’s second presidential debate, which takes place Wednesday evening at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Trump is speaking at Drake Enterprises, a non-union auto parts supplier about a half hour outside of Detroit. The company makes equipment for heavy trucks, as well as parts for General Motors and Ford cars.
Donald Trump arrives in rainy Detroit
The crowd consisted of a few hundred guests, including some United Auto Workers, some Drake Enterprise employees and other supporters.
Trump toured the factory before making remarks.
“We’re going to visit the UAW,” Trump said as he landed in Detroit. But it is unclear whether he supports the striking workers’ demands, which include a wage increase, shorter working days and other concessions.
Trump’s stop in Detroit follows Biden’s visit to the state Tuesday, where the president joined striking auto workers on the picket line and supported their bid for a 40% wage increase.
Outside the venue, dueling groups of pro-Trump supporters and Trump protesters shouted at each other as cars honked as they raced past on the highway. A plane flew overhead with the message ‘Trump Sold Us Out.’ A drum line marched through the cheers for the former president.
Trump leads by double digits in the Republican presidential primary polls.
With a huge lead, his campaign appears to be focusing on the general election battle, which is increasingly looking like a rematch between Trump and Biden.
Both he and Joe Biden are working to win over working-class voters in this critical battleground state. Trump won Michigan in the 2016 election, defeating Hillary Clinton. But Biden took it back for the Democrats in 2020 and defeated Trump.
However, Trump wants to win it back together with the Democratic strongholds Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. These three Rustbelt states were key to his victory in 2016 and to Biden’s victory in 2020.
Both men are working on their appeal to working-class voters: Biden emphasizes his roots in Scranton and his long ties to unions and the middle class. Trump promised to revive dying manufacturing cities and destroyed global trade deals.
The former president has drawn some criticism for going to a non-union operation and for the fact that his speech is by invitation only.
His campaign said Trump is fighting to protect all middle-class jobs, not just those of union members.
“President Trump is fighting to protect the jobs of all middle-class working voters in Michigan, both union and non-union. Joe Biden, meanwhile, wants all working, middle-class voters in Michigan, both union and non-union, to move to the unemployment line,” Trump adviser Jason Miller said.
Trump’s speech comes as his Republican rivals gather in California for the Republican Party’s second primary debate
President Joe Biden walked the picket line with striking auto workers in Michigan
A person holds a sign with Donald Trump’s mugshot outside his rally location
Trump has long been critical of Biden’s push for electronic vehicles and the president’s green agenda. Trump argues this would put more auto sector workers on the unemployment line.
Miller noted that “every auto worker in Michigan knows that Crooked Joe Biden’s insane EV mandate will ‘kill’ the American auto industry, and union leaders have been warning of this threat for years.”
However, Biden argues that his clean energy agenda, including the shift to electric vehicles, will create new manufacturing jobs. He has set a goal that half of all new car sales will be electric by 2030.
The United Auto Workers (UAW), which supported Biden in the 2020 election, has not yet endorsed a candidate for the 2024 election.
UAW workers are concerned that new electric vehicle battery plants will not be unionized, and that is a major concern for them in this round of negotiations with automakers.
United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain (left) joined President Joe Biden on the picket line in Michigan on Tuesday
Meanwhile, UAW President Shawn Fain lashed out at Trump, saying he is in the “billionaire class.”
Speaking to CNN ahead of Trump’s landing in Detroit, Fain said: “I have no desire to meet with him because I don’t think the man has any concern about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for.” ‘
“He serves a class of billionaires and that is what is wrong in this country,” Fain noted.
He also said, “I find it pathetically ironic that the former president is going to hold a meeting for union members at a non-union company.”
He’s not the only autoworker frustrated with the former president.
Some are angry at Trump for what they see as unfulfilled promises about automotive jobs — promises he made as president that never materialized.
And they point to Trump’s 2017 promise that manufacturing jobs at the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, will “all come back.” Instead, the factory was closed in 2019.